Internationalization Lab Executive Summary


An authentic and integrated global perspective is critical to our university mission to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world. The University of Kansas - Lawrence Campus is participating in the American Council on Education’s 2020-2022 Internationalization Laboratory with the broad objective of aligning and enhancing institutional structures and support to elevate and enhance our internationalization activities. Subcommittees conducted an institutional self-study in six areas: administrative leadership and staffing; curricular, co-curricular and learning outcomes; faculty and staff policies and procedures; partnerships and collaborations abroad; inbound student mobility; and outbound student mobility. Major findings from the subcommittee reports, which include an array of institutional, survey, and interview data, and their integrated recommendations are summarized here. 

Major Results & Recommendations 

KU has significant internationalization resources and levels of international activity critical to the teaching and research missions of the institution. An audit of campus-wide funding for international education revealed that while most of the funding supporting international education is contributed through KU International Affairs (KUIA), significant contributions are also made from academic units including the KU Libraries. Similarly, international curricula and research are rich, but not centrally coordinated, sufficiently incentivized, recognized or celebrated, even though these international assets are attractive to both external and internal stakeholders and directly contribute to KU’s core mission. Organizational changes are needed to enhance access and impact. This summary highlights three major themes from the self-study, which provide opportunities for KU to engage in institutional change that weaves international activities through our institutional fabric and establish a culture of shared ownership in comprehensive internationalization.  

Improve communication and coordination of international resources: 

  • External stakeholders — Develop a clear, consistent and prominent communication strategy to showcase KU as an international research university with global impact; improve access to and opportunities for engagement by increasing knowledge of and easy, coordinated access to KU’s international resources and people.  

  • Staff — Connect and align campus stakeholders and KUIA units through improved communication and structured collaboration. Currently many staff members are unaware of the support, policies, and trainings that are available. In some instances, policies are difficult to understand or navigate without assistance or context.  

  • Students — Reduce barriers to participation in order to equitably increase student access to study abroad by integrating KU’s rich array of education abroad opportunities and experiences into KU’s degree programs through improved coordination with academic units and the development of an institutional definition for internationalized curricula.  

  • Faculty — Transform the communication and alignment of opportunities, as well as the support and assistance to faculty as they navigate and coordinate international research collaborations, travel, study abroad and the policy environment that impact international work. While awareness of policies, support and compliance expectations must improve through communication and outreach, KU’s supportive assistance is a priority as current support and approaches are seen as unhelpful, irrelevant, or barriers in and of themselves.   

Re-imagine structures and support by investing and strategically aligning existing strengths and resources:  

  • National Resource Centers (Area Studies) — Broadly recognized by self-study participants as KU’s most comprehensive, inclusive, nationally and internationally visible, interdisciplinary and important international assets, our centers and their contributions are hidden, disconnected from critical units across the university and under-leveraged. Central realignment of the centers is essential to maintaining KU’s international prestige, building momentum and enhancing impact in our international research, teaching, and outreach mission. 

  • Structures — Current policy language needs to be reviewed from an international engagement advocacy lens so that policies are perceived as paving the way for informed and strategic international collaborations and partnerships. Similarly, improved collaborative partnerships with the Office of Global Operations and Security are needed to communicate and demonstrate KU’s cross-cultural competencies and commitment to international research and teaching activity.  

  • Support — Strategically coordinated investment of resources that incentivize, enable and enhance international teaching, research, and community engagement activities will increase faculty and staff participation, further their professional development, and visibly enhance KU’s efforts at promoting inclusion and belonging among the larger campus community.  

Develop a culture that values and rewards international activities: 

  • Reward structures — Strategic planning, annual evaluation of data, staff performance review criteria, and faculty tenure and promotion should explicitly value and reward international activities and the development of intercultural competencies. The development of a university-wide International Engagement Index for measuring and reporting faculty, staff and student effort and demonstrable outcomes is essential.  

  • Integration and Equity — 

  • The depth and stature of international activities at KU should be integrated into the campus identity, messaging, marketing, outreach and strategic planning.  

  • International perspectives should be actively included when comprising search committees, workgroups and for other influential committees and initiatives.  

  • International students should receive dedicated support in acclimating to U.S. academic and social norms and access to equitable student services comparable to their domestic peers, including new student orientation.  

Internationalization Priorities 

Based on the data and analysis from the sub-committee reports, KU should prioritize the following recommendations: 

  • Communicate and operationalize its identity as a globally engaged research institution externally and internally. 

  • Communicate, organize, and coordinate processes, staff, and support that facilitate international activities on campus. 

  • Realign and leverage KU’s National Resource Centers (Area Centers) as a central part of institutional internationalization strategy.  

  • Finalize the codification of what constitutes a strategic collaborative partnership as well as institutionalize and staff a process that is implemented at all levels.  

  • Develop and maintain through KU’s International Engagement Index a transparent decision-making framework for compliance and centralized data collection/retention on international activities in teaching, research, and compliance to better set internal goals, benchmark activities against peers, and establish a feedback loop for strategic incremental improvement.  

  • Leverage fundraising efforts and increase logistical support to increase faculty and student access to and participation in international research and education abroad. 

  • Create a definition for international curricula and leverage and align existing structures in the Area Centers to coordinate campus-wide curriculum internationalization efforts and map education abroad to degree plans. These activities are demonstrated to positively influence retention, graduation, and academic performance, so are central to KU’s institutional priority on Student Success.  

  • Create comprehensive plans for recruiting international students in collaboration with Enrollment Management and provide institutional support systems for recruitment, admissions, orientation, and student and alumni engagement that are equitable to those provided in support of domestic populations. 


The Lab results point to a complex set of opportunities that highlight a need to reimagine organizational alignments toward KU’s internationalization efforts. These efforts should be focused on building upon our foundation in ways that will positively transform KU by strategically aligning our efforts internally, as well as with external collaborators and stakeholders. We have an opportunity to fully embrace, acknowledge, support and build upon the rich international work already underway at KU.  

Subcommittee Final Report Appendices  

Appendix I: Administrative Leadership Structure & Staffing  

Appendix II: Collaborations & Partnerships Abroad  

Appendix III: Curriculum, Co-Curriculum & Learning Outcomes  

Appendix IV: Faculty & Staff Policies & Practices  

Appendix V: Student Mobility - Inbound  

Appendix VI: Student Mobility - Outbound